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They have stolen Pesach from us!


I’ve been inundated with them. The many social media posts about Pesach holiday cleaning. Some have been anxiety ridden, most, humorous.

There’s the guy who posted himself eating his erev Pesach falafel sandwich — mind you this was one week before Pesach commences. The photo showcases a bowl full of falafel balls. No pita pocket to be seen. Humorous responses in the spirit of the post followed.

One woman wrote she hadn’t felt this rebellious since her teen days when she defied her mom and got a second ear piercing, but this year she decided she was taking the radical step of skipping the whole bathroom cabinet clean-up and organization. “It’s a slippery slope,” one person wrote, among the many funny responses, with comments like “living on the edge” etc., “next thing you know you will skip scrubbing the windows and before you know it you will claim that dust is not chametz. Watch out.”

Then there’s the guy-husband, cleaning out his kitchen refrigerator, outfitted in full gear for the job: a hiking headlamp; his status update clarifying he is following in Jewish tradition, whose women from generation to generation wouldn’t accept anything short of laboratory level sterility as the Pesach preparation standard. He joked about the three legal categories of Jewish law, noting he was following the third: not de-Oraita (written law), not de-Rabbanan (rabbinic oral law), but the hybrid patois third category: de-Rebbetzins (relax, it’s a joke, not meant to imply cleaning for Pesach is solely a woman’s province).

Then there were the online rabbinic disagreements. One rabbi sent out an article titled: “If It Takes You More Than a Day To Clean For Passover, You Are Doing Spring Cleaning, Not Passover Preparation.” To which another rabbi responded how unrealistic that is and why make people feel bad, like their effort is relegated to plain old spring cleaning when in reality it is labor suffused with meaning because of its religious significance. In fact, this rabbi emphasized, such assertions are reminiscent of the seder’s wicked son, no less, who irreverently asks: What is this avodahwork-labor — you are engaged in?

The Disney style graphic that went around of the Cinderella story in a two-part visual, just chronologically reverse, said it all. The first graphic of Cinderella decked out in finery, ready for the ball, said “Purim,” while the second one of a rag-clad Cinderella slaving away on the floor, said, “Pesach.” It’s good to laugh!

I was reminded of a Pesach post from last year by an Aviad Hazani, a captain in the Israel Defense Forces, who addressed the Pesach Grinch situation. It was was circulated by journalist Sivan Rahav Meir:

“This morning at the bus stop I heard two older women discussing how there is nothing to eat during Passover. Yesterday, a friend mumbled to me with sadness something about matzah and stomachaches. During the past couple of weeks I have come across dozens of social media posts about people suffering from cleaning for Pesach. Friends! They have stolen Pesach from us!!

“Pesach is the most revolutionary holiday in human history. A nation of slaves dares to challenge the great world power of the time with the result of shaking the shackles of slavery off, going into freedom accompanied by incredible miracles, while displaying heroism and national pride. Pesach is a holiday of faith in man: taking a bruised, wounded slave and whispering in his ear that he is not just a number — that he has a mission; telling him about the previous generations and educating him to have true confidence that he can follow in their footsteps.

“Pesach is a holiday of a struggle of a nation, of their willingness to walk a long way, to go through a process of deep internal searching. Pesach is a holiday of simplicity: flour, water, and then straight to the oven.

“It is a holiday that prompts us to internalize how to enjoy the genuine, simple, unsophisticated things in life.

“Think of Pesach. Live Pesach. Do not allow the superficial conversations to steal its joy and meaning away from you. In final analysis, most of the Pesach aspects that are difficult are our decisions to embark on projects and cleaning operations. The Pesach laws themselves are simple and not daunting. They are meant to be there as a way of facilitating an inner process of a spiritual journey.

“Do not make the things of ancillary importance become the essence of the holiday. Do not rob yourselves of Pesach!!”

How so very true. No more excesses. Just simplicity. Enjoy every minute!

Chag Sameach, dear readers!

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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